Objections to the Updates to the Internet Child Privacy Protection Laws

The Federal Trade Commission has proposed changes

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The Internet will eat your kids alive and market crap to them while it's at it, which is why the Federal Trade Commission wants to update the Children's Online Privacy Protection Act, reports The Wall Street Journal's Emily Steel. "The Federal Trade Commission wants to give parents more control over what information websites can collect about their children." The new regulations would require parental consent for websites to collect information about your child, explains The New York Times's Somini Sengupta,

The proposed revisions expand the definition of 'personal information' to include a child’s location, along with any personal data collected through the use of cookies for the purposes of targeted advertising. It also covers facial recognition technology. Web sites that collect a child’s information would be required to ensure that they can protect it, hold onto it “for only as long as is reasonably necessary,” and then delete the information safely.

Safeguarding kids from advertisers--sounds great! Lawmakers and parents alike approve of the step. Massachusetts representative Edward Markey heralded the commissions proposal, calling it a "much needed step." But not everyone is so keen on the safety regulations.

Advertising companies. Most obviously, the companies that lose most here are the ones who give up access to precious information: marketing and advertising firms. "We think they may have gone a little too far," Jerry Cerasale, senior vice president of government affairs for the Direct Marketing Association told Steel. Instead of requiring consent for tracking cookies, advertisers would prefer less strict guidelines, continues Steel. "The Direct Marketing Association would prefer the definition of "personal information" only should include information that could be used to directly contact or communicate with a child because the programs don't always identify children but rather the computer," continues Steele. Not only do these companies fear they will lose kids' eyes, but they could lose an entire family full of ad-dollars.

Businesses. The provisions could put too large of a burden on Internet businesses, as they require companies to perform yearly audits to ensure compliance with the regulations. It could become "a Herculean task," Alan Weber an analyst with Altimeter Group, told The Los Angeles Times's Jim Puzzanghera and Jessica Guynn. "If the FTC's proposed revisions … go through, companies such as Facebook, Google and others are going to have to put more stringent fences up to keep kids out and then audit what data they do collect," he continued. Not only is this annoying for companies, but it could become expensive.

Parents. Most parents will appreciate the idea, but in practice might not want to comply. At least that's what The Center for Democracy and Technology predicts, reports Wired's David Kravets. "The D.C.-based policy group expressed alarm, however, over the FTC proposal requiring website operators to obtain scans of 'government-issued identification' from parents to grant permission for their kids to upload photos, for example. The center said that 'raises privacy concerns for parents.'"

This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.